Loneliness. Precariousness. Two of the most persistent and troubling realities of human existence. Last Sunday, as a church, and all week long, as a nation, we have grieved the fall of the condo in Florida. Imagine being asleep at night when the building in which you live...crumbles to the grounds. It wasn't a terrorist attack. Nor a tornado. Utter precariousness. In the face of sorrow, my heart instinctively hears lyrics to music. This week, it was the band, Kansas playing, Dust in the Wind (you may click the live links to listen to the music), "All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see". Last week, we could not refuse to see the crumbling. This week, I had dinner with a single woman in her 40's, a conversation with a longtime divorced man in his 70's, a never-married man in his 60's, and a married man in his 50's. I sat outside and spoke, through a window, with a widow in her 80's who lives in a nursing home with her three-decades-younger and disabled daughter. I visited a couple in their 80's, with their 60-year-old son, all are in poor health, physically and mentally. Each conversation was unique. Each conversation was sprinkled with laughter but flooded with the reality of isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness may have increased because of the pandemic, but I have a deep sense that it is not the cause. Perhaps the pandemic gives us permission to tell the truth about our often-lonely lives. Last week the Survey Center on American Life released a study showing that the number of both men and women who say they have "no close friends" has increased five-fold in the past three decades. Feeling genuinely connected to one or two humans in a meaningful way is strongly correlated with physical, mental health and spiritual health. If Eric were going to be here on Sunday, I might ask him to sing Eleanor Rigby and Lonely People. But I need more time to contemplate a sermon on loneliness. Help me. Help me write the sermon you need to hear...about your experience of loneliness. Seriously--send me an email, text or call me with your responses to some questions. I will not share your names. What music do you listen to that speaks to your loneliness? When do you feel the loneliest? Where do you feel the least lonely? Why? Tell your truth. Pastor's heart is not a mini-sermon section. This is where I try to tell the truth of what's on my heart. Here, I am free from the restraints of grammar, tidy conclusions, and many additional self-imposed "shoulds". Here is just my heart. This week my heart is heavy in the face of precariousness and loneliness. Tell me about your heart. With love, Pastor Micki